Our studies in southern China have revealed a remarkable sulfur and strontium isotope excursion at the end of the Permian, along with a coincident concentration of impact- metamorphosed grains and kaolinite and a significant decrease in manganese, phosphorous, calcium, and microfossils (foraminifera). These data suggest that an asteroid or a comet hit the ocean at the end of Permian time and caused a rapid and massive release of sulfur from the mantle to the ocean-atmosphere system, leading to significant oxygen consumption, acid rain, and the most severe biotic crisis in the history of life on Earth.

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